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Kyo Masquerade NYE

When:

Wed Dec 31 2014, 9:00pm

Where: Club kyō, 133 Cecil Street, Keck Seng Tower #B1-02, Raffles Place, Singapore

Restrictions: R18

Ticket Information:

  • Door (incl glass champagne): $35.00
  • Additional fees may apply

Every musician needs to take action to keep themselves fresh from time to time, but James Ford and Jas Shaw of Simian Mobile Disco have really gone to extremes this time: they’ve completely abandoned every tool they previously used to make music. The duo have never been ones to follow anyone else’s methods in any case – the title of their last album Unpatterns says it all about their penchant for disruption and reinvention – but for the recording of their new record, Whorl, they’ve started from the ground up and created an entirely new electronic system, and recorded everything entirely live, from scratch.

Over the years – as members of the criminally underrated “prog-psychedelic band” Simian, as one of the UK’s finest electronic duos, and individually as esteemed producers for other acts – James and Jas have accumulated mountains of incredible vintage synthesisers and other general sound-making boxes. The sounds of these devices made Unpatterns what it was, but this time around they’re putting them all away, denying themselves the almost unlimited freedom they afforded, and limiting themselves to two suitcase-sized boxes each. No laptops; no racks of hardware; just one synth and one sequencer each, which they took into the Joshua Tree national park in California and recorded the album in front of an audience.

When SMD advise you on studio processes, you’d do well to listen as their wisdom is hard-won. Simian, the band they formed with Simon Lord and Alex McNaughten at Manchester University, was signed to a subsidiary of a major label in 2000. It was an unlikely start, given that they were in James’s words “a kind of prog-psychedelic thing partially named after the Silver Apples’ drum synth”, or as Jas puts it “trying to show you could make band music with songs and harmonies but be into Autechre too, just at the moment the world was into the Strokes and White Stripes and straight-ahead rock music.”

In fact Simian’s music was gorgeous, with a rich pop streak – but as the descriptions suggest, its overtly baroque structures were way out of tune with the time. With the arrogance of youth, the four of them convinced themselves that big things were theirs for the taking, but though their two albums were exceedingly well received in many quarters, global domination evaded them; the combination of thwarted ambition and four very different creative personas led to friction and the band split before completing their third album.

Meanwhile, though, the Simian Mobile Disco project had started to take a vague kind of shape. Originally simply a name under which band members would DJ – in order to, says Jas, “satisfy our urges to do something more freeform, as touring locked us into playing the same songs again and again in the same way.” The name, increasingly just referring to James and Jas, was then used for the band’s own remix of themselves, then for remixes of others, and as Simian came to an end became the duo’s main creative outlet as they made more and more electronic tracks for their own DJ sets.

This gigging and jamming served them well, as when Wichita Recordings suggested an album release they realised they had at least two full CDs’ worth of viable tracks. Attack Decay Sustain Release emerged in 2007, riding a wave of attention following the success of the “Hustler” single first released on the fledgling Kitsuné label, and Justice’s inescapable remix of Simian’s “We Are Your Friends”. This latter never had anything to do with SMD directly, and they have done their best to dissociate themselves from it bar the occasional mischievous dropping of the intro in a DJ set, but there’s no denying the boost it gave the Simian Mobile Disco name, with ADSR consolidating that masterfully.